Regular naps prevent old age, especially if you take them when driving – Advice in a Traffic Police Manual circa 1956
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work,” replied comedian Woody Allen to the journalist, doing a profile, “I want to achieve it through not dying.”
Jonathan knows how not to die because he’s still living. Or, in his words, “so far, so good.”
No one’s quite sure how old he is exactly but most estimates place it at 190. Translation: if he orders three-minute eggs at a restaurant, it’s likely the waiters will ask for the money up-front.
I mean, you never know!
But he’s not likely to because Jonathan is a giant tortoise. Moreover, the Guinness Book of Records says it’s the oldest land animal to have ever lived.
Jonathan is estimated to have been born in 1832, the same year as Lewis Carroll but the latter only lived long enough to complete Alice in Wonderland and its sequel – Through the Looking Glass – before kicking the old b.
The year of birth, 1932, would make Jonathan 190 this year. To put that in a Malaysian context, Jonathan was born before Georgetown was made the capital of the Straits Settlements.
In the context of the United States, it was the year Andrew Jackson became US President and it was a full five years before Queen Victoria ascended the British throne and dubbed herself the Empress of India.
Like Lewis Carroll before her, Queen V also kicked the old b and her niece Elizabeth currently occupies the British throne. Much like love or Father Time, however, Jonathan continues to thrive even as Queen V’s grandson Charles, 72, remains uncrowned.
But the Bonnie Prince’s unfazed about it and remains admiring of his mother, the Queen. Indeed, he admitted as much to Jonathan recently.
“My mother was strict with me and my siblings but she tortoise well,” said Charles in his birthday wishes to Jonathan.
For reasons of privacy, Jonathan moved to the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic in 1882 when he currently resides. Even so, it only moved after it was finally convinced that its previous Famous Emigre Napoleon Bonaparte had not only left but had long kicked the old b as well. People had a habit of doing that around the old turtle.
But Jonathan’s famous and happy on the island. “He is a local icon, symbolic of persistence in the face of change,” Joe Hollins, Jonathan’s vet said. Still, the island’s Fire Department has banned any celebration of the beast’s birthday after the cake for its 150th caused a not-inconsiderable prairie fire.
In his twilight years, Jonathan is blind and can’t smell but still grazes on the grounds of the governor of the island’s residence where he lives with fellow giant tortoises David, Emma and Fred. David is happier than Fred but that, as you will discover, is another story.
He is fed by hand once a week to ensure he gets enough calories. But there’s no reason for pity though: his other main interests remain sex and sleeping – in that order.
The only problem is, well, he doesn’t seem especially picky.
“In spite of his age, Jonathan still has good libido and is seen frequently to mate with Emma and sometimes Fred.”
It isn’t clear what Fred thinks about this somewhat unorthodox arrangement: he declined comment.